Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Large format describes photographic films, view cameras (including pinhole cameras) and processes that use a film or digital sensor the size of 6 x 9 cm or larger. The most common formats are 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 inches. Uncommon formats include quarter-plate, 5 x 7 inches, and 11 x 14 inches. The Polaroid 20 x 24 inches Instant Camera is the largest format camera currently in common usage, and can be hired from Polaroid agents in various countries. Many well-known photographers have used the 235-pound, wheeled-chassis Polaroid. Large Format Motion Picture cameras made by IMAX and Iwerks use perforated 120 film (aka 65/70mm).
A number of actions need to be taken when using a large format camera, resulting in a more contemplative photographic style. For example, film loading using double-sided Dark Slides requires a changing bag or darkroom (although users of the most common format, 5 x 4, now use Ready-Load pre-packaged film, which removes the need for Dark Slides). A tripod is essential for a monorail view camera. The viewing of a scene must stop when the Dark Slide is slotted into the camera back prior to exposure. A separate Polaroid back using instant film is essential for most users, allowing previewing of the camera setup before committing to expensive film.
Most large format cameras have adjustable fronts and backs that allow the photographer to better control perspective. Architectural and close-up photographers in particular benefit greatly from this ability. Based on the Scheimpflug principle, these adjustments make it possible to solve photographic problems, and create effects, that would be impossible with a conventional fixed-plane camera. Ansel Adams is an example of how the use of front (lens plane) and back (film plane) adjustments can secure great depth of field when using large format cameras.
Large format, whether film-based or with a digital back, will always be popular for some applications. For example, high value consumer items or demanding scientific applications will benefit from the very high quality of the prints or transparencies produced.
examples of photographers who have used large format
- Weegee (5 x 4 Speed Graphic hand-held press camera)
- Joel Meyerowitz (10 x 8 landscapes)
- Calum Colvin (Scottish artist)
- Richard Avedon
- William Wegman
- John Blakemore
- Ansel Adams
- Edward Weston
- Nicholas Nixon
- Paul Strand
- Eliot Porter
- Brett Weston
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